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Thursday, April 18, 2013

The World of Sports Continues

Following the tragic events at the 2013 Boston Marathon, I simply did not find it fitting to discuss routine sports topics. Still, life goes on and the world of sports is no exception. My thoughts and prayers, like most everyone else's, are with the victims of the explosions and the people of the Boston area. I hope for swift justice in this tragic case.

Since there has not been a feature article in the Hat Trick since last week, I thought I would throw in my two cents on some of the recent happenings of the sports world.

NCAA Basketball

Largely due to time constraints, I never had a chance to comment on the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament championship. It could not have happened to a more deserving team or a more deserving coach in Louisville Cardinals Head Coach Rick Pitino.

Pitino formally learned of his induction to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame on the morning of the National Championship Game. The Cardinals win over the Michigan Wolverines was a microcosm of their close performances in the NCAA Tournament. The Cardinals played hard, disciplined basketball, but the difference between winning and losing was Pitino himself.

Like in the Regional Finals and National Semifinals, Pitino's management of the elements of the game was the difference between Louisville winning and losing. Louisville was the top overall seed in the tournament, but Duke had the talent to beat Louisville in the Elite Eight. Pitino outcoached Mike Krzyzewski. The Wichita State Shockers had Lousiville on the ropes for most of the National Semifinal matchup. Pitino outcoached Gregg Marshall and effectively pulled the rug from under the Shockers. Michigan jumped to an early advantage against Louisville and went back and forth in the second half. Pitino outcoached Steve Beilein, particularly in utilizing the bench. Louisville's Luke Hancock became the first reserve player ever to win Most Outstanding Player of the Final Four. Pitino deserved some mention for the feat.

Last week's win was Pitno's second National Championship (Kentucky, 1996) in his seventh trip to the Final Four. Pitino is the only coach to win an NCAA championship with two different schools and the only coach to officially reach the Final Four with three different schools (Providence, Kentucky, Louisville).

Note: Current University of Kentucky Head Coach John Calipari reached the Final Four with the University of Massachusetts in 1996, the University of Memphis in 2008, and Kentucky in 2012, but the 1996 and 2008 appearances were vacated due to NCAA violations.

Louisville Head Coach Rick Pitino cuts down the net for the second time in his career. 1

Boston Marathon

The tragedy at the Boston Marathon is beyond words. Who would be so depraved and sick enough to murder innocent people, including children, and potentially ruin dozens of lives with potentially crippling injuries? Even worse, this happened at a major international sporting event, where people generally do not expect planned acts of terror to occur.

I am still wrapping my mind around the scope of the devastation and terror inflicted that day. I do feel confident in our government and law enforcement agencies bringing the parties responsible to justice quickly. But arrests, convictions, and any measure of accountability cannot undo the damage done to innocent people. These people did nothing more than try to enjoy a celebratory day in Boston.

Our country has dealt with a number of large scale tragedies in this still new century. I have had the misfortune of being directly touched by one of them - Hurricane Katrina. So when I say that I have an idea of what the people of Boston are going through, it is not hot air. It is a different kind of tragedy and loss, but it is profound and soul-shaking nonetheless.

Speaking from experience, I expect the city of Boston to pull together, strengthen its already strong civic pride, and be more united and fortified as a community in response to this tragic event. I expect the full compassion for the victims by the New England community and the American people as a whole. And, finally, I expect us, the people of the United States of America, to reel in the monster(s) responsible for this, make them pay, and be wiser to help prevent something like this from happening again.

#prayforboston 2
Pat Summerall

The sports world lost one of its icons on Tuesday when long time NFL broadcaster and former NFL kicker Pat Summerall passed away of cardiac arrest following hip surgery at a Dallas hospital. He was 82.

As a sports fan, I always feel some sense of loss when an iconic person dies. However, Summerall's passing hits me on a deeper level. I, myself am an aspiring broadcaster, commenting play-by-play and producing Internet broadcasts of high school athletic events. Summerall is one of a handful of broadcasters off of whom I try to model my own performances.

When Pat Summerall spoke, those listening knew they were listening to football. Much like John Facenda and his "voice of God" is synonymous with NFL Films, nearly 30 years after his death, Pat Summerall is synonymous with the premier NFL game on Sunday afternoons. In concert with his longtime broadcast partner, Hall of Fame NFL coach John Madden, Summerall narrated football in a manner that made the commentary an inseparable part of the NFL television viewing experience.

Summerall's broadcasting career spanned more than 40 years. He called 16 Super Bowls. He called countless playoff games and nationally televised NFC regular season games on CBS and Fox. He will be missed.

The first three minutes say more than I could say about the man in one day. 

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